Pitch clocks are likely coming to Major League Baseball in 2018, whether you like it or not. The league is set to meet with the Players Association next week to discuss possible pace-of-play changes for the 2018 season, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.
Pitch clocks will be one of the main obstacles both sides will discuss. That probably shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. It’s been no secret the league has wanted to bring pitch clocks in the majors for some time.
It seems likely that will get done. Pitch clocks were implemented in the minors in 2015, so there are already a fair amount of young pitchers in the majors who have worked with them before. Given their familiarity, and commissioner Rob Manfred’s crusade to shorten game time, you should expect some compromise there.
As it stands now, the games are getting long. Average game time spiked to a record high of three hours and five minutes in 2017, according to Crasnick. That’s a big commitment, even for hardcore fans.
The other thing Crasnick mentions in the piece is limiting catcher visits to the mound. While that would shorten the game, it’s unclear whether the Players Association would be on board with it. That proposal hasn’t been officially discussed until now, and baseball doesn’t always do a great job handling change.
In the end, it may not really matter what the players think. As commissioner, Manfred is allowed to enact changes without the approval of the Players Association. He threatened to use that power when the players pushed back against changes last year, and could take it to the next level if the meeting doesn’t go well this time around.
Ultimately, the Players Association probably shouldn’t push back much in this instance. Both of those changes are relatively minor overall, and wouldn’t have a drastic impact on how the game is played. The two sides probably aren’t talking about completely eliminating mound visits, just making sure there aren’t four every half inning.
As long as the on-field product remains the same, these changes should be viewed as harmless. Manfred’s goal should be to cut down on game time without make the game unrecognizable. This is good first step toward making that a reality.
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